Thursday, November 22, 2012

PROFESSIONAL: A Road Much Traveled




CN Tower - Toronto

Maybe it’s because I really don’t have a choice but to accept it… but when I get asked about traveling quite a bit for my job, I always respond that “the best jobs I know these days require some traveling. “

Having said that… I guess my job would be better than most given the amount I’ve been on planes and in rental cars and hotels this year. 
Pre-season trips to LPGA sites in Naples and New Jersey, Rochester, Waterloo, Toronto and Phoenix kicked things off in February with the goal of finding out how our tournaments are looking to grow their “big week” and showing how we hope to grow their media exposure.  To me, those visits were the foundation for the year…. and some momentum for the goals we had in our LPGA communications department.

LPGA Staff with Christopher McDonald, Cheech Marin
In March, it was 3 straight weeks on the west coast… but back home in between each event… from Phoenix to San Diego and Palm Springs.

After that… it was Spring Break with the family and some great friends in Cancun… and then back on “the road” with a trip to Hawaii, home for a few days and out to Mobile, Alabama.

With April behind, May brought a short trip to the World Golf Village and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony… followed by one of several “Media Day” appearances – this one at one of our flagship events.. the Wegmans LPGA Championship in Rochester… and then straight back to New Jersey for the LPGA’s Match Play event.

Waterloo LPGA event with Kendall
Summer was fun… I took my youngest daughter with me back to Waterloo for our new Manulife Financial event… where we took in the sites in Toronto and went zip-lining in Canada.  Then Media Day in Toledo, a tournament Arkansas,  and some family vacation time in Hilton Head Island right after the U.S. Women’s Open in July.

Evian, France in July
I must say… Evian, France is a treat.  Host town of what will (in 2013) become THE EVIAN as a major championship, it could be one of the most scenic sites in the world.  Hospitality unmatched, I truly enjoyed my July week in France.

Voodoo Donuts - Portland
August was crazy  …. Toledo, Toronto, St. Louis, Columbia, MO, Jacksonville, Portland and Vancouver…. all leading to another big “media day” in Denver as we rallied our Solheim Cup teammates and the media for a big outing to prepare for the event that takes place in August 2013 in Parker, CO. 

On Stage in Oslo, Norway with Suzann Pettersen
September provided a trip to Kingsmill, VA… a special opportunity to emcee LPGA star Suzann Pettersen’s charity event in Oslo, Norway…. straight to Liverpool, England for the Ricoh Women’s British… and then small, quaint Vidalia, GA for our Symetra Tour event to work on media skills with our rising stars which was quite rewarding.

Downtown Seoul, Korea

You could say that things “slow down” in the fall…. just one major trip on my calendar as I ventured to Korea for the first time for our event there.  To say that LPGA stars are a big deal in Asia would be an understatement of the highest order.  To see Seoul in person was a great experience… beautiful city.

Solheim Cup Event - Denver
Last week was the “capper.”  Our season-ending CME Group Titleholders… with winner’s only… and other qualifiers making it our most exclusive field of the year. Every day was a meeting.. every night was a function… and I think everyone there in Naples left feeling proud about the year we had, the goals we hit.. and the momentum that seems real heading into 2013. 
So why do I share this year-long itinerary?  My hope is not to compare frequent flier miles, or compare passports in a game of “beat this.”  In fact… while I’ve traveled more at the LPGA than I ever did at Golf Channel… I’ve actually been at far more family functions, kids sporting events and dinner’s with friends than ever before.  That alone… is my greatest victory of the season. :)
Radio Show in Vancouver
Through this, I hope you’ll see what our business is like… what my responsibility as Chief Communications Officer of the LPGA is like and how much goes into a tour season for all of us.  Trust me, my schedule is not unique inside our headquarters.

This year, we’ve established growth in our tournament schedule (5 new events).. a rise in our television ratings (almost 40% over 2 years ago) and a growth in partnerships and sponsors.  While that’s great… to me, the biggest thing about this job… and this tour… is the relationships built because of a great and growing product… and a commitment by all those at our tour, and those like Golf Channel, Rolex who showcase our brand…. and every tournament partner… to grow and create bigger awareness of the product.

Promoting the LPGA Product
To me… you’d better be careful to shout out for more media or public attention unless the product is worth shouting about in the first place.  I believe in what we’re doing… and I love the “ownership” taken by our players… and the comments received from our fans.

Sunday night, I’ll fly to California to deliver a 1-hour talk to key executive folks from one of our biggest sponsors… and then head right to the airport for home.  Is it worth it?  No question…. and to me… the results of 2012 are all the proof I need.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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